How does the Holy Spirit help me pray?

2 Min Read

Without the Holy Spirit, there would be no true prayer. Paul writes to the Corinthians and says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

The Spirit primarily does two things in us, and if you understand these two things, you’ll understand how the Spirit helps us pray. First, the Spirit illumines us. He opens our eyes to see who God is truly, and we then find our minds turned. We have a complete misunderstanding of what God is like, and then the Spirit opens our eyes, and it’s a mighty aha moment that carries on as we carry on being educated by the Spirit. So, the Spirit renews our minds as we think: “Oh, that is what God is like. I did not think God was like that.”

Second, by renewing our minds, the Spirit transforms our hearts. He takes away a heart of stone to give us a heart of flesh. That is an initial work that He does, but it’s also an ongoing work. The Spirit gives us a new mind and a new heart, but He also ongoingly educates us and affects us. In regard to prayer, that means that as the Spirit works in me, my mind is enabled to know what to pray for.

As a young Christian, I naturally tended to have a prayer life like a shopping list of blessings for me, my family, and my friends, and it was pretty self-centered. And then I’d remember that I ought to do some less self-centered prayers. But as the Spirit works in me and transforms my mind, and I see reality differently, as I start seeing the centrality of God and not me, then my prayers start following that change. My prayers start becoming more God-centered and less me-centered. That’s the Spirit’s re-education work.

Further, through the Spirit’s re-education work, He is also transforming my affections and desires. It’s not merely as the Spirit works in me that I know, “Yes, I really ought to be more God-centered and less self-centered.” Rather, the Spirit is doing a deeper work. He’s actually making me want to be and enjoy being God-centered so this just becomes natural to me. I’m not trying to work at it. It just comes out of who the Spirit is making me to be. Therefore, I begin to desire to pray God-centered, God-loving, and God-adoring prayers.

The Spirit educates and affects me such that I begin to desire to pray, to desire long communion with God in a way that I did not think about before. Initially, prayer was just one of those things that I ought to do every now and again. But the Spirit’s work runs so deep that I begin to enjoy communion with God.

So, it’s those two things that the Spirit does. He educates me, transforming my mind, and He transforms my affections so that I enjoy prayer and begin to pray more intelligently and more Christian prayers.

This transcript is from an Ask Ligonier Podcast session with Michael Reeves and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email or message us on Facebook or Twitter.